Friday, March 14, 2014

Corodail - South Uist

If you’ve read the adventures of Prince Charlie, you know of his travels through the islands from April to July of 1746. Constantly eluding pursuers, he stayed in 20 places in 70 days, with just one respite: three weeks in Glen Coradail.

Coradail was, and is, an excellent bolt hole; a natural fortress guarded by Gèideabhal, Hecla, and Teach an Truibhais; a trinity of peaks praised in Beanntan Uibhist (The Bens of Uist), by the poet Dòmhnall Iain MacDòmhnaill:

Tha Gèideabhal nan geur-chlach cas
Mar leug ‘s i laist an òr-fhainne;
Tha Heacal chiar nan strìochdan glas
Na siantan bras cha leòn iad i:
Tha Teach an Triubhais dùmhail trom,
Le cìrean tollach cleòcanach,
A’ sgurrachadh suas le uaill bha ‘barr,
‘S gur dual dha plàsta ceò bhith air.

Gèideabhal of the sharp, steep rocks
Is like a jewel shining in a gold ring;
Dark Hecla of the grey streaks
Proof against the blustering elements:
Teach an Truibhais is bulky, thickset,
With a ragged, mantled crest,
Towering proudly at its top,
Usually tipped with mist.

 Two of these mountain names may not sound familiar: Gèideabhal and Teach an Truibhais.  Gèideabhal, which I think means 'Goat peak', is the old name for Beinn Mhor, the highest hill on S. Uist. Teach an Truibhais is the old name for Ben Chorodail, and means 'the crotch of the trousers'. 

The reason for the strange name is readily apparent when you look at the OS map of Coradail. If you do, you’ll see two ridges arcing towards each other that meet at the knobby tip of Beinn Corodail. This terrain looks like a pair of pants. The two ridges are Cas fo Dheas and Cas fo Tuath (the south leg and the north leg), and Beinn Choradail was once called Teach an Truibhais – the crotch of the trousers.

The people of Coradail were evicted in the 1920s. Their ruined houses still stand, and all around them are the remnants of cultivated fields. Above the ruins on the north side of the glen there's a small cave; Uamh a’ Phrionnsa (The Prince’s Cave). But the Prince did not stay there. He stayed in a forester’s cottage on the south side of the glen.  Below are some photos of Corodail I took during a camping trip in 2012.

Campsite extraordinaire - looking east to Rubha Hellisdale
Another view of the campsite - looking up the glen towards the Forester's Cottage
This is marked on the OS map as the Prince's Cave - but he did not stay here
Probable site of the Forester's Cottage
The Prince's Pool below the Forester's Cottage - that's my name for it, but it would certainly be a nice spot to bathe
Time to head back - the ridge to Glen Hellisdale - 6 hours later I would reach the road


  1. In 1787, John and Angus MacLellan with three sisters left their homes at the foot of Beinn Mhor at Glaich, Laith, near Glen Corodale and Loch Eynort to emigrate to Prince Edward Island, Canada. They had been harassed by ClanRanald - "Ranald of the stick" to convert from their Catholic faith. The landlord told all their neighbors not buy anything from the MacLellans or he would pull down their shielings stone by stone and toss them into the sea for kelp to grow on. The families left but one sister stayed behind and was married to a Mr. Steele. The brothers wives were Effie Stewert and Sarah MacCormack. The three sisters are not named. They brought a qrearn with them. This was written in a ledger book from 1817by someone in the next generation that my cousins still posess today. I am proud to be of this heritage.

    1. What a great heritage to have. I have just been scouring the map of S. Uist, and I can not find Glaich or Laith. Do you know where they are? I am wondering if I may have walked that way.

    2. I think Laith is Glen Liadale . A stream that runs from Beinn Mhor. I've never been there but plan on trekking there some day.

  2. Really useful to find this. I've been trying to work out where was the place called "Cassin in Trewish" on the Blaeu Atlas/Pont manuscript and I am pretty sure the legs of Corodail provides the answer. The poem gives it away! I've put it in a post on my blog
    The other name for Beinn Mhor is interesting too - as well as being the one Pont/Blaeu used and I hope to post something about that shortly.